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Why Is Missouri Upset About Good News for Egg-Laying Hens in California?

Why Is Missouri Upset About Good News for Egg-Laying Hens in California?

California’s measure to give egg-laying hens more space to move was challenged this week by Missouri’s Attorney General, who filed a lawsuit over the new law claiming it poses an unfair burden to his state’s farmers.

In 2008, California voters approved a ballot measure, otherwise known as Prop 2, that was intended to improve the lives of farm animals by requiring that egg-laying hens, pigs and calves be raised in enclosures that offered them enough space to allow them to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs. After it passed, farmers were given until January 1, 2015 to update their facilities to comply with the new law.

Following Prop 2′s passage, concerns were raised that the move would give out-of-state producers who could continue to sell cheap eggs from battery hens an advantage over California’s producers, so in 2010 the state banned the sale of eggs from all producers that don’t meet the state’s standards for egg production.

Passage of Prop 2 was a historic victory for farm animals who get little protection under current laws, but getting them even the space to enjoy the simple luxury of being able to stretch was an uphill battle that continues to face threats.

Last week, the Farm Bill passed without the King Amendment, which would have limited states’ abilities to set animal care standards for farm animals and would have undone progress many areas have made on a local and state level to improve welfare and food safety, including California’s Prop 2.

That victory was short lived with Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster taking up the fight to kill the law by filing a federal lawsuit against the state of California that argues Prop 2 violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by imposing requirements on out-of-state farmers.

“This case is not merely about farming practices,” Koster said in a statement. “At stake is whether elected officials in one state may regulate the practices of another state’s citizens who cannot vote them out of office. When California passes legislation that imposes new requirements or limits on Missouri businesses, it is my job to fight against it.”

Approximately 540 million of Missouri’s 1.7 billion eggs are sold to California consumers. According to Koster, Missouri’s producers will have to spend $120 million to come into compliance with the law, or they could stop selling there, which would leave them with a surplus and force some farmers out of business.

However, many still support the notion that states should have the right to pass laws that protect animals and their residents. Jennifer Fearing, the senior state director of the Humane Society of the United States in California, refuted Koster’s claims to that this has nothing to do with health or safety, noting that eggs produced from battery hens have a higher risk of being contaminated with Salmonella and that that there may be an ulterior motive at play here.

“Attorney General Koster’s lawsuit targeting California’s laws, at the cost of taxpayers’ money, just so he can curry favor with Big Agribusiness, threatens state laws across the country dealing with animal cruelty, agriculture, and food safety,”¯ she told the AP.

It’s bad enough that we have to fight just to get farm animals enough room to move, which makes it especially sad to see a state fighting so hard against humane treatment of battery hens just to stick to the status quo because it’s cheaper and requires less effort. Hopefully the court will agree, as it has in other cases. If it doesn’t it could affect our ability to keep products we find cruel, unhealthy or unsafe from coming into our states.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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7:59PM PDT on May 20, 2014

I see Mark D. is STILL screaming about anyone who isn't vegan being a "terrorist" and calling for violence against those who disagree with his opinions and beliefs. Mark, do you actually have a single clue about your rantings being against Care2's Code of Conduct? None of us here condone factory farming or CAFO's, but we also support those farms who raise livestock in a humane and caring way, without which, those species simply would cease to exist. We do not support violence, and that includes against those that you disagree with.

7:48PM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

Dale, don't even try to excuse these terrorists that call themselves "farmers", just because they have established themselves in some monied status quo. Those "farmers" you are so desperate to protect are responsible for an endless nightmare of terrorism, viciousness, cruelty and mass murder to line their pocketbooks and pump up their pea brained fat heads with more layers of toxic animal fat.

American "farmers" of livestock can never be excused for such crimes, just as the orchestrators of concentration camps could never do enough to make amends for WWII crimes. These will carry those crimes to the grave, so don't even try to be their defenders, it just drags you into the diseased sewer that those criminals calling themselves farmers inhabit.

7:40PM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

In response to "USA is so bloody poor that it has to abuse little chicken, calves and pigs for food, such a backward country"

No truer statement could be made, US is very responsible for the current state of that greed hellhole on earth called Asia. Don't forget that USA and Canada's corrupt governments and corporations have made the sadist, animal hating, polluted sewer of tyrannical China their role model.

7:34PM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

I would vote 100% to jam Chris Koster into one of those hen coops with his nasty diseased criminal head being beaten on with a crowbar every time someone walked by. What a piece of diseased filth that Missouri monster is and how could he have sleazed his way into a political office.

6:08AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

I am assuming that he meant chicks, as in young chickens, Diane L...while he was clucking at Americans from his soapbox.

10:09PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

And ................""USA is so bloody poor that it has to abuse little chicken, calves and pigs for food, such a backward country".........anyone else pick up on his confusing poultry with "young" humans? Did he mean the U.S. abuses children and misspell the word or did he mean YOUNG chickens?


10:04PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

Yes, Rainbow, I remember that very well! He slammed the U.S. and was quite insulting and rude, claiming that his country had their act "all together" and was almost "all vegetarian" to claim how progressive they are there. When it was brought up that they also hunt Bengal Tigers strictly for profit, he had little, if anything to say about that. Strange sense of values..........to protect and "worship" cows and allow them to stand in the only source of drinking water to many villages, yet shoot endangered species to the brink of extinction! He admitted that he had little, if any respect for women and was "racist" when it was also brought up about how most women are treated there, even though the Prime Minister is female. Yes, SOME women do get an education and the female physician who was featured on primetime TV (Nightline or 60 Minutes?) who told her own story about how she was forced to undergo an ultrasound to determine the sex of her unborn child and since it then was known to be female, she had to go into hiding to prevent a forced abortion, he had nothing to say. Missouri may be decades ahead of that in the way of civil rights!

9:31PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

"USA is so bloody poor that it has to abuse little chicken, calves and pigs for food, such a backward country"
This from the guy who once said we should mind our own back yard before criticizing others.

9:14PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

In response to "USA is so bloody poor that it has to abuse little chicken, calves and pigs for food, such a backward country"

Are you implying that poverty justifies animal abuse? It doesn't.

8:27PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

DALE O: Give em hell woman. Gosh I'm getting good at that well deserved phrase. Don and WE CAN! :-))

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